Congratulations to 2019 Feature Screenwriting Master - Montgomery Burt for “The Outskirts of Paradise”

“The Outskirts of Paradise checks all the boxes of what a true dark comedy should be.”

In addition to writing "The Outskirts of Paradise," Montgomery has completed four feature scripts and written for radio and television. His teleplay "Career Move" was produced for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and his Twilight Zone script "Borrowed Time" won second prize in a national competition. CKNW Radio also produced his black-comedy radioplay, "Leonard McTivey's Last Day at Work." Mr. Burt received two Praxis screenwriting fellowships through Simon Fraser University, and he runs Upwords, an ongoing screenwriters workshop that develops new talent. Recently, a short comedy film he wrote and produced, "The United Guys Network," played at over 40 festivals worldwide and picked up five awards along the way.

In addition to writing "The Outskirts of Paradise," Montgomery has completed four feature scripts and written for radio and television. His teleplay "Career Move" was produced for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and his Twilight Zone script "Borrowed Time" won second prize in a national competition. CKNW Radio also produced his black-comedy radioplay, "Leonard McTivey's Last Day at Work." Mr. Burt received two Praxis screenwriting fellowships through Simon Fraser University, and he runs Upwords, an ongoing screenwriters workshop that develops new talent. Recently, a short comedy film he wrote and produced, "The United Guys Network," played at over 40 festivals worldwide and picked up five awards along the way.

The Screenplay

New to the town of Paradise, Stan Wheeler has a passionate affair with another man's wife, Darlene Forzani, but they can't leave together until they find stolen money her husband Earl has hidden in his junkyard. Meanwhile, the real owner, C.W. Getz, wants his money back in this story of lust and greed on the wrong side of the tracks.

The Inspiration

A friend of mine from high school was an up-and-comer in the sports world until he had a serious knee injury that ultimately cut short his career. I wanted to write a story about someone like that who nearly had it all but is now a has-been, with a wife who resents him for it. At the same time, I was fascinated with film noir and wanted to tell a story like that within the noir framework. I wanted to have a likeable, down-on-his-luck central character, Stan Wheeler, end up in the middle of this dysfunctional couple, Earl, a former race car driver who lost his nerve, and his wife Darlene who feels she gave away her best years. In noir fashion, there's murder and double-crosses, and stolen money to fight over as an ambitious tow truck driver, C.W. Getz, wants it all at any cost. I wanted it to have a darkly comic tone without sending up the noir genre. (Too many films don't honor the ideas behind film noir, they only mimic the snappy dialogue and the stylized forties look.) Above all, I wanted to write a movie that entertains an audience with a story about little people with big problems in a town everyone drives past.

In addition to the $1000 cash prize, Montgomery comes away with the Screenwriting Master Trophy, Judges Notes, Entry To Next Year’s Competition, and a copy of Final Draft 11 courtesy of our sponsors at Final Draft.


Congratulations to 2019 Short Screenwriting Master - Julia Morizawa for “Dragonfly”

“Dragonfly is a beautiful story that is likely to bring the audience to tears.

Julia Morizawa is an actor/writer/producer based in Los Angeles. Her writing and producing credits include the improvised feature film “JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult),” which was awarded Best Comedy Feature at the Asians on Film Festival in 2014 and the Movie Heroes Rising Star Award at the Action On Film Festival in 2013; the short film “Sin & Lyle,” which earned her a Best Female Filmmaker nomination at the Action On Film Festival in 2007; the play “Twenty-Two,” which premiered at the Knightsbridge Theatre in Los Angeles in 2010; the audio drama “American Comedy Horror Story: Orphanage,” which is available worldwide on most podcast apps; and the sci-fi/adventure digital series “Pure,” which is currently in post-production. “Dragonfly” is her first endeavor into animation and is part of a much larger story she has been developing over the past decade about her family history.

Julia Morizawa is an actor/writer/producer based in Los Angeles. Her writing and producing credits include the improvised feature film “JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult),” which was awarded Best Comedy Feature at the Asians on Film Festival in 2014 and the Movie Heroes Rising Star Award at the Action On Film Festival in 2013; the short film “Sin & Lyle,” which earned her a Best Female Filmmaker nomination at the Action On Film Festival in 2007; the play “Twenty-Two,” which premiered at the Knightsbridge Theatre in Los Angeles in 2010; the audio drama “American Comedy Horror Story: Orphanage,” which is available worldwide on most podcast apps; and the sci-fi/adventure digital series “Pure,” which is currently in post-production. “Dragonfly” is her first endeavor into animation and is part of a much larger story she has been developing over the past decade about her family history.

The Screenplay

Dragonfly tells the story of a young girl who learns of her mother’s survival of the Tokyo Firebombing on March 9-10, 1945 through the eyes of her brother’s spirit.

The Inspiration

I began writing a screenplay about my heritage, centered around my Japanese-American father and paternal grandparents and my Japanese mother and maternal grandparents, approximately 12 years ago. It wasn’t until I began researching what my maternal grandparents might have experienced during WWII that I learned about the Tokyo Firebombing on March 9 and 10, 1945. On that night, in less than three hours, 279 to 334 (depending on sources) B-29 bomber planes dropped 1,665 tons of incendiary bombs centered on the Shitamachi district of Tokyo. By dawn, more than 100,000 people were dead, one million were homeless, and sixteen square miles of the city were completely flattened. It was the highest death toll of any air raid during WWII, including the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In my personal experience, as a Japanese-American child growing up in the 1980s and 90s, little to nothing was taught about the parts of WWII that involved Japan and Japanese-Americans. I read the books “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr and “Farewell to Manzanar” by Jeanne Wakatsuki and James D. Houston, and that was the extent of my education about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the Japanese internment camps. Some adults I meet today have never heard of either. And in my effort to learn about the lives of my grandparents, whom I never met, I felt it equally important to share this forgotten part of history with anyone who would be willing to listen, lest history repeat itself. “Dragonfly” is being developed as an animated short film and is a small part of a much larger story containing many more of these forgotten moments in history that so distinctly shaped my family. My long-term goal is to be able to produce that larger story in my lifetime.

In addition to the $500 cash prize, Julia comes away with the Screenwriting Master Trophy, Judges Notes, Entry To Next Year’s Competition, and a copy of Final Draft 11 courtesy of our sponsors at Final Draft.